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The "Silent Treatment" vs. the Talking Machine: Understanding Introverts and Extroverts

How You and Your Child Prefer to Process Information and Recharge
The older you are, the more likely you'll be using both preferences, especially if you grew up with a parent whose preference was different from your own, or have a job that demands a style different from your preferred style. As a result, you may be comfortable using both styles, but you usually prefer one. Our goal with the following checklist is to identify your child's and your own preference – your first and most natural response. I devised this list for use in my classes. Check those statements that seem to fit you or your child best, the statements that are true for you most of the time. Your behaviors will give you a good idea about your preferences. If your child is able to read, let him complete the checklist himself or complete it with you.

If you or your child prefers extroversion you probably:
__ need to talk in order to figure out what you "feel."
__ tend to share thoughts or feelings immediately as they strike you.
__ need feedback, affirmation that your point of view and feelings are valid.
__ want immediate responses to questions.
__ figure out how to do things by talking or doing.
__ need people and activity to feel energized. A day alone leaves you feeling drained and cranky.
__ask lots of questions.
__ get into trouble for talking too much or interrupting.
__ hate to wait for lengthy directions – you just want to do it.

If you or your child prefer introversion you probably:
__ need time alone to figure out how you feel.
__ need time to think before you are ready to talk about your feelings.
__ share thoughts and feelings selectively, often with those closest to you but rarely with strangers.
__ feel grumpy and drained after being in a noisy crowd or large group.
__ need downtime to recharge.
__ often start talking in the evening after having time to reflect.
__ learn best by watching, reading, or listening first.
__ have a strong sense of personal space and do not like to feel invaded.
__ are often told to "hurry up" or that you're taking too long to make a decision.

Count how many statements you would agree with in each group.


My child Me
Extrovert statements: __ Extrovert statements: __
Introvert statements: __ Introvert statements: __

Coaching the Extrovert
Preventing power struggles begins by working with your child's type rather than against it. If your child prefers extroversion, it's essential that you understand that in order to work with you, your child needs:

  • to talk in order to figure out how he feels.
  • activities and interactions with people in order to feel energized.
  • questions to help him think.
When you honor the extroverts' need to think out loud and to be active, you help them to discern their emotions. You are also helping them keep their energy levels high so that they can more effectively manage their behavior and not get into fights with you.


From the book KIDS, PARENTS, AND POWER STRUGGLES: Winning for a Lifetime by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, published by HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. Copyright 2000 by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. All rights reserved.

Buy the book at www.harpercollins.com.

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